Looking out over her beloved False Creek, 89 year old Beryl Wilson told me that her last weeks were the happiest days of her life. She received so much love, affection and “good food” from family, friends and neighbours that she realized she was loved. And that she had made a contribution.
And what a contribution! Editing, writing, and publishing the four-page newspaper, The Creek from 1982-2002.
When Beryl stood at the north side of Alder Street in 1978, surveying the landscape of False Creek South, she knew she had found her community where she could know her neighbours and live well as a single woman. At age 48, the former Brit had no inkling of the important work ahead of her in her new Spruce Village home.
The next winter an issue of The Creek came through her letterbox. She called it “the icing on the cake! We even have our own little paper.” But before long, and to her dismay, the paper closed. She approached a few writers, hoping they would take it over, and outlined a publication plan, including articles for the first issue, who would write them, where it could be typeset and printed, how it could be financed, where and how it would be delivered, etc. (April, 2002. The Creek)
In the end, the only person willing to take on such momentous work was Beryl herself. She was then 52 and, as she later recalled, exasperated.
“I was spending so much energy trying to find someone to revive The Creek, to no avail, I just decided ,”Tsk! There’s nothing to it; I’ll do it myself.
“Probably due to my complete lack of any previous journalism experience, the paper reflected my personality to such a degree that people often referred to The Creek simply as ‘Beryl’s paper”.
And that personality? A deep laugh, a curious, caring, lover of knowledge and civil society, a witty and boisterous presence.
Theresa O’Leary is a former CBC journalist.